It wasn’t enough to build the best football offense the Bay Area has seen at any level in nearly a decade. Or to have a running back roll through the Pac-10 like Adrian Peterson, only with less melanin. Or even seven quarters of slight-to-total dominance over Oregon and USC, the teams previously considered the class of the conference.
Jim Harbaugh went for 2 points in an attempt to hit the magic number of 50 against the Trojans in the fourth quarter on Saturday, and now everyone’s paying attention. Forget the fact that coaches like Steve Spurrier, Bob Stoops and Pete Carroll himself have been piling on whenever possible for years; Harbaugh’s decision to go for 2 after USC had already virtually thrown in the towel was treated nationwide like Barack Obama would have if he’d have mooned George W. Bush on Inauguration Day.
(Everyone else has shared their opinion on the “going for 2″ incident, here’s mine: College Football is based very heavily on humans voting for the teams they think are the best, and voters like blowout wins. Forget the whole USC-as-the-bully angle, when the rest of the country sees that Stanford dropped 50+ on the Trojans it made waves. It’s not Harbaugh’s fault he didn’t predict his team would intercept another USC pass and march on into the end zone again after the infamous 2-point conversion failed.)
It’s tough to root for Stanford. It’s easily the smallest school in the Pac-10, most of their students move back to their high-achieving households in whatever corner of the world they came from instead of staying in the Bay Area, and it costs roughly $50 million to go there and gain college credits (although it’s free to do what my cousin Heather does — hang out with the student body and root on sports department with more energy and spirit than 98% of the student body).
Ever go to a Stanford game? Let’s just say there are plenty of good seats available, which is pretty sad for a new stadium which only seats around 45,000.
With middling public support and little to no national cache, the Cardinal have to pull off crazy moves like going for 2 during a blowout to even get a mention on ESPN. In other words, anyone who thinks Harbaugh is going to stay at Stanford his entire career and refrain from taking a job at Michigan (his alma mater) or in the NFL is delusional, or hasn’t paid attention to the actions of every college coach since Bear Bryant was yelling racial epithets. What Harbaugh’s done in turning around the football program on the farm is even more impressive than what Jeff Tedford did at California. Tedford came from Oregon with credentials. Harbaugh came to Stanford from University of San Diego and sounds completely insane when talking to the media.
So don’t wait for Stanford to get REALLY good to start paying attention; this is the heyday right now. Andrew Luck could start at QB for the 49ers tomorrow, and the Raiders yesterday. Ryan Whalen and Chris Owusu are the best receiving tandem on the west coast and Toby Gerhart would finish 1st or 2nd in the Heisman voting if college football weren’t the real-life version of Bushwood Country Club. I’m pretty sure they play defense from time to time (actually, in the game SGL and I watched versus her Washington Huskies, their defense and special teams looked pretty dominant, too).
To all of you who are tired of rooting for mediocrity — or even worse, the Warriors — do what I’m doing this Saturday and root for the Cardinal against the Golden Bears on Saturday evening. I’m supposed to root for Cal since I went to UCSC and we’re all one big happy UC family or something (apparently that’s the correct attitude for those who went to school where sports was less important than 4:20 celebrations), but I’d like to see a little Bay Area dominance before the world supposedly ends in 2012.